Category Archives: Politics

A Scary Time in America

And you thought this election was going to be all about the economy.  Silly you!  In today’s of installment of “What the hell were they thinking?” I give you Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican nominee for the United States Senate in Missouri.   Akin won a tough primary battle for the right to face one of the most vulnerable incumbent senators, Claire McCaskill.  And the polls showed him doing quite well – up by 8-10 points in most.  But then Rep. Akin went on the Jaco Report and, at the risk of underselling it, things didn’t go too well.

Click here and scroll down for the full interview.  The abortion comments begin around the 4 minute mark.

Yes, you heard that right.  According to a man who has been serving in the United States House, women’s bodies have some sort-of magical ability to determine if a rape is “legitimate” and, if it is, can prevent pregnancy.  Stupidity like that, if it wasn’t so scary, would be hilarious.   Oh yeah, Akin also sits on the House Science Committee.

It might be interesting to note that this is not a new issue that Akin just happened to bring up. The House passed a bill earlier this year with full Republican support and 16 Democrats which would have added language to the Federal Abortion Ban (which includes rape exemptions) to differentiate between “forcible” rape and other rape. The bill never made it to the Senate floor but, if it had passed, women who had been the victims of non-forcible rape (statutory rape, rapes that involve drugs, or verbal threats) would not be exempted from the ban. My guess is that Akin misspoke and meant to say forcible rape, not legitimate.  To quote President Obama on this “Rape is rape.”  Done.  Simple.  Right.

Either way, this is just another in a series of moves by factions of a Republican party that is so far out of touch with modern times, I shudder to think what they will come up with next.   Now, I will acknowledge that many prominent Republicans have tried to distance themselves from Akin but it just doesn’t ring true in most cases.  Mitt Romney, through a spokesperson, says that “Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape…”  Problem is, Congressman Ryan was a co-sponsor of the “forcible rape” bill and the RNC sub-committee tasked with the creation of a party platform approved this afternoon anti-choice language with NO exemptions (not health of the mother, not rape of any kind, nothing).    Romney will be the leader of a party that believes a crucial issue this year is ensuring that Government doesn’t help women who get raped have abortions.  This isn’t just Congressman Akin – this is a a GOP strategy.

Consider other instances, just in the past 12 months:

  • Rush Limbaugh calls Sandra Fluke a “slut” for testifying before Congress regarding contraception
  • Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum said, in regards to abortion in cases of rape that “women should make the best of a bad situation”
  • Kansas lawmaker, Pete DeGraaf, suggested that women should plan ahead for being raped by buying abortion-only policies in the same way that he keeps a spare tire in his car.
  • Legislatures across the country have introduced nearly 1,000 bills relating to female reproductive rights – nearly all of them designed to limit a woman’s ability to control her own medical decisions.  (SIDE NOTE: Don’t you find it remarkable that the same Congress so concerned with “Obamacare” taking healthcare decisions away from the individual is so ok with it when it comes to these issues?)

This isn’t about religious freedom.  This isn’t about one man making a gaffe.  This is about a group of people – mostly men – who have decided that the pre-1950s era limits on women’s freedoms were the way to go.  This is about a group of people who want to control a woman’s body.  It is terrifying to me that these people serve in our government and I shudder to think what the United States of America would look like if they were in charge.

I’ll close with the words of Eve Ensler, in her heartfelt and powerful letter to Congressman Akin on the Huffington Post today.

“You didn’t make some glib throw away remark. You made a very specific ignorant statement clearly indicating you have no awareness of what it means to be raped. And not a casual statement, but one made with the intention of legislating the experience of women who have been raped. Perhaps more terrifying: it was a window into the psyche of the GOP…Why don’t you spend your time ending rape rather than redefining it? Spend your energy going after those perpetrators who so easily destroy women rather than parsing out manipulative language that minimizes their destruction.”

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Why is fairness so difficult?

There was an article in the Cincinnati Enquirer last week that caught my attention.   Essentially, there is quite the battle going on in Ohio right now regarding early voting and hours it will be available.  The debate has been over what hours polling stations offering early voting should be open.  The standard is that polling stations are only open during the week and close promptly at 5:00 PM.  However, in order to open access to those who work full-time, polling stations were open later in the evening an on weekends for the 2008 election.  This year those extended hours are under attack and are in jeopardy.

Now, it would be one thing if the extended hours were to go away in all Ohio counties.  But, because this is 2012, that is not the case.  In several Ohio counties extended hours have already been approved.   Why?  Well Democrats support extended hours in all counties, while Republicans are only supportive in areas that are likely to vote Republican.  Given that each the Board of Elections in each county has 2 Democrats and 2 Republicans, that has led to a 4-0 vote for in the likely Republican counties and a 2-2 tie in the likely Democratic counties.  When there is a tie the Secretary of State, Republican Jon Husted, breaks it.  Again, because this is 2012, he has aligned chosen short-term political gain over what is right and just.  The effect is that only certain counties will have early voting and others will not.

While it is true that, for those who can’t get out of work to vote, there are other options (absentee ballots), the fact remains that, in Ohio, the elections will not be fairly contested.   We can debate the merits of early voting and extended hours all we want, but that is not the issue here.  The issue here is that certain members of one party are doing everything they can to suppress the votes they don’t like and encourage the ones they do.  And that, my friends, is beyond shameful.   And, to say it is about money, as Husted has, is just a blatantly dishonest statement designed to pull the wool over the eyes of American citizens.  It’s a lie and he knows it.

You know what I’d love?  Let’s have international observers come monitor OUR elections and give a report.  Different rules applying to different places based on the expected results would be decried anywhere else in the world.  Results would be challenged and Anderson Cooper would be on the scene creepily quickly.  However, at home, we simply accept it and say, as chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party Alex Triantafilou did, “there will be plenty of hours to vote early.”  So, essentially, it may not be fair, but figure it out.  That is not the way our Democracy is supposed to work and not why so many groups, who Husted, Triantafilou, and others are working to suppress, have struggled for years for the right to cast their vote.

Some Wednesday Thoughts…

What a crazy few days of news items!  It’s like the world community has realized that Hollywood is out of ideas and has come together to create real-life stories that will make even better movies.  Each of these news items is bizarre, weird, mysterious and just plain strange.  And, yet, each is totally true and no doubt stranger than even we know at this point.  And all relate to sports or politics 

  • Of course, I have to start with this alleged Russian spy ring.  This story has everything a good spy story should have – suburban couples living a “normal” life; a young hot female spy with a ex-husband who wants to tell-all; kids who, supposedly, knew nothing of their parents activities; a spy released on bail (oh yeah, that was smart) who vanishes.  Of course the fact that they, apparently, weren’t able to learn anything at all makes it even better!  And now, word comes today, that USA and Russia are negotiating a spy swap.  What do you want to bet Hollywood already has three movies about this in the works.  Summer of 2011 will be the year of the spy movie!
  • What a crazy story out of Japan regarding Sumo wrestling and organized crime.  And I so thought the big guys were above it all!  In case you missed it, authorities in Japan are investigating alleged links between the top Sumo stars and leaders of organized crime families in Japan.  Again, this is another story that has it all.  Sports, organized crime, prime seats, blackmail, tons of money.  Stay tuned because this story is sure to get stranger and stranger.  And you thought the NBA had problems!
  • The World Cup has sure given 15 minutes of fame to some unusual people.  You have the officials who seem to have forgotten how to call a game.  You have model Larissa Riquelme announcing that she would run naked through the streets if Paraguay were to win the world cup.  And, then announcing that, even though they lost, she would do it anyway (nothing like sticking to your guns).  You have the coach of the Argentina squad, Diego Maradona, making the same offer to considerably less excitement.  With Argentina out, no word on whether he will follow Larissa’s lead and do it anyway.  And now, you have a group of porn stars offering to do something very special to all their Twitter followers should the Dutch (who are still alive) win the cup.  Remember when memories of a big sporting event used be related to what happened on the field? Ahh, the good old days!
  • At the Rangers game last night a fan was, apparently, reaching for a foul ball from the upper deck, lost his balance and tumbled down into the seats below.  Amazingly he was ok, but this video of the reaction of the players and umpires is quite something.

Ok, that’s all I have for you.  Enjoy the day!

Link for 12/7 – A BIG endorsement

We are one day away from the primary and Attorney General Martha Coakley has received quite the gift.  Former President Bill Clinton (who remains extremely popular in Massachusetts) has recorded a telephone message that will be blasted to about 500,000 people during the day today.  Designed to remind people to vote and encourage them to support Coakley it is hard to imagine that such a powerful endorsement won’t have a strong impact on undecided voters. 

Late today I will post my endorsements (easily as important as President Clinton’s) and please don’t forget to vote tomorrow!

Link for 12/4 – More healthcare

Check out this website for a great explanation of a risk that Harry Reid took in his constant effort to please everyone.  In the next few days we will say if Reid can get past the bluster of certain members of his caucus and give everyone just enough to ensure he has the 60 votes he needs.  This will take all of his negotiating skill and it will require him to make some deals and maybe, just maybe, play hardball with colleagues on his side of the aisle.  How much would you love to be a fly on the wall in his office right now.  Finally, now is when Senator Kennedy’s powerful voice is really missed.

Link for 12/3 – The debate has begun…

Stupak is to the house as _____ as to the Senate?  What are our clues?  Well, we need someone in the Senate who is a Democrat, but is solidly anti-choice.   There were several potential choices but, now, we have our answer.  Ladies and Gentlemen, presenting Ben Nelson of Nebraska.   According to several media reports, Nelson is introducing an ammendment based on the one that passed the house that would severely restrict the ability of women to get abortions. 

There has been much controversy around this and rightly so.  What we are really talking about is banning a safe and completely legal medical procedure?  And, we are settting up a system where all operations that men have are covered, but we aren’t covering an operation that women have.  I have a real problem with that.  Just because you may be opposed to the procedure doesn’t mean that we should make it nearly impossible for others to have it.  The Hyde Ammendment is bad enough in that it prohibits any Government money paying directly for abortions.  But to go further, as Republicans and some Conservative Democrats are doing, smacks of the kind-of big government micro-managing that these folks claim to be against.    Going further means that NO insurance company that receives any government subsidy would be allowed to cover this legal procedure.  Going further means that women would have to either pay for abortions out of pocket or buy supplemental insurance which, in all liklihood, would be extremely expensive.  Going further means that some women who keep their current insurance will lose services that are currently in their plan.  Going further is a terrible idea.

In the Senate version of the bill there is a provision which, like the one proposed by Representative Lois Capps in the House, essentially maintains the rules set forth by Hyde.  The difference is that Capps and Reid do not change the rules to make them more restricitve and make abortions significantly harder to get.  It is ironic that the only ones who would be changing the rules (Nelson and Stupak) claim they are doing what they are doing to in order to keep the rules from being changed.

Link(s) for 12/2 – Politics on TV

Last night was a great night for political junkies.  From 7-8 we had a surprisingly explosive debate between the four Democrats vying to represent their party in the special election to succeed the late Senator Kennedy.  Then, at 8, President Obama took over the airways to announce his new war strategy in Afghanistan. 

Click here for a recap of the debate

Click here to watch the President’s speech

      I thought this was one of the best speeches of the Obama Presidency.  For the most part he stayed away from “political” rhetoric and focused on laying out the case for increased troop levels in a clear and convincing manner.  In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that I was a supporter of the war in Afghanistan back in 2002 and I do believe our success or failure in that country will have long-lasting consequences for America and for the stability of the region.   However, no matter what your opinion on the merits of the war is the fact remains that we are there and, due to irresponsible decisions by the previous administration, we have lost ground.  I don’t believe leaving right now is an option (as much as I’d like it to be)  and, if you believe people on the ground, maintaining the status quo is a recipe for disaster.   Therefore, I support the President’s plan to send in more troops and am gratified to hear him lay out a clear and realistic mission for them, as well as an exit strategy.  To those who don’t like putting out a timeline for withdrawal, I would argue that such an announcement is critical to show President Karzai and the Afghan people that we are serious about turning over the security of the country to them and that they must step up to the plate.  However, I truly believe that, in 18 months, if the situation is not what we hope it will be, President Obama will reassess his withdrawal timeline.  Hey, at least we have an exit strategy – something the Bush administration forgot to consider as they planned their invasions of both Afghanistan AND Iraq.

The men and women in uniform have already given so much (one only needed to look around the room at West Point and in the various living rooms across the world where CNN had cameras to see the true cost of this war) and to ask them to give more is so hard.  But I do believe the President when he says that he asked the hard questions and considered all options before making this incredibly difficult decision.  It may not work, but I applaud him for taking a stand and setting out a plan that, at least on paper, gives us the best chance of success.

Link for 11/20/09

Check out this site for a full accounting of the Senate version of the healthcare bill.  Should be a VERy interesting weekend as some in the Senate try to block debate on the bill – does Harry Reid have enough votes to defeat the block?  We shall see!

If you can’t find Sarah Palin’s book…you might be looking in the wrong section

This is an actual picture taken by an actual customer in an actual bookstore.  I’m sure it was just some employee’s idea of a joke…but it is funny nonetheless.

Candidate Tuesday #8 – Joe Kennedy

I’ve been teasing it for a few weeks and now, finally, it is time to learn more about the only “Kennedy” in the race.  A member of the National Libertarian Party, Joe Kennedy has collected enough signatures and will be on the ballot as an independent.  Mr. Kennedy claims no relation to the Kennedy family and, in fact, has made quite clear that if any Kennedy had decided to run, he would have stayed out.  However, with none of Senator Kennedy’s family entering the race, Citizen Kennedy is in. (Confused yet?)

Kennedy is a pretty standard-issue Libertarian (if there is such a thing)  He believes in the government staying out of people’s lives (ie. same-sex marriage and, indeed, marriage in general, is not something for the government to legislate).  In fact, on his campaign website, he directs readers to the webpage of the National Libertarian Party for more detail on his positions.  Kennedy has arrived at his political perspective through concerns over the over-spending in Washington and is uncomfortable with what he sees as the long-term costs and risks of the federal government controlling so much.  Finally, this Kennedy would vote against the health care bill now in Washington in favor of free-market solutions.  He believes the increases in costs over the past 50 years have come as a result of government regulation and doctors having to insure themselves against medical malpractice cases. 

He will be on the final ballot so we will have more an opportunitiy to examine his exact positions on a variety of issues but, for now, check out his campaign website.